The term pesh commonly refers to both the originally Katapeshi narcotic and the cactus plant from which is derives. While some of the poorest farmers might own only two or three plants, most settlements in Katapesh devote a field to growing the cacti used in manufacturing the product.1
The pesh plant itself is a fuzzy looking cactus that thrives well in the hot and humid environments in southern Katapesh. During spring, pesh plants are known to bloom a distinctive yellow flower with red stripes.2 As a result of its cultivation, the pesh plant has a tendency to deprive other nearby plants of water and nutrients.3
The simplest method of pesh production is to remove the cactus' leaves and drain the liquid contained within. The resulting thin and pungent milk is then set aside in a cool, dry environment to curdle. After three days, nagri—a bitter salt mined from dry lake beds such as Sabkha—is added and mixed into the curdled milk and set aside for another day. The resulting large, white lumps formed within the mixture are then strained from the whey. Despite its raw solid form, this "raw pesh" can now be smoked in a water pipe such as a hookah, or consumed orally as a single, strong dose.1
Refined pesh takes longer to produce as farmers wait for the two months each year when the cacti's flowers are in bloom. During this time, the plant's seed pods swell and farmers score each pod with sharp blades. This allows the plant's pungent, milky sap to ooze out and harden into resin. This process is repeated for weeks, ensuring each plant's seed pods are dry and yield no more resin. The hardened resin is then added to the raw pesh made from the plant's leaves (see above) and pressed into sticky, black blocks which are then eaten, rolled into leaves and smoked, or mixed into drinks. Despite its characteristic sour taste, refined pesh boasts a potency that rivals raw pesh and is considered a commodity among wealthy merchants and Katapesh's nobility.14
In its refined form, Pesh is an alchemical reagent and can be used to make various other drugs. As an alchemical power component, it is associated with boosting the effectiveness of enchantment spells.5
Pesh users often experience hallucinations as well as feelings of euphoria, paranoia, and aggression while under the effect of the drug. An hour after initial consumption, the users will often feel fatigued. The pesh plant's flower is also commonly used as a spice in cuisine.2 Both versions of the drug derived from the pesh cactus described above (i.e. raw pesh and refined pesh) are highly addictive.6
A rare type of spellcaster called sahir-afiyun, or "sorcerer of sleep" in Katapeshi, consume pesh to enhance their magical abilities and cast unique spells. This method is most popular among arcane spellcasters and divine spellcasters who worship Norgorber.7
A more refined version of pesh is a gnomish concoction known as pho pesh. It is harvested and refined only in the underground settlement of Yavipho where buyers can expect to spend up to ten times more than the standard price. Pho pesh generally leads to far more pleasant and vivid hallucinations compared to standard pesh.8
Wyrm pesh is manufactured by adding dragon's blood to pesh, forming a red-tinted drug that is more potent and less debilitating than the standard form. However, wyrm pesh is much more addictive and rarer, and thus more expensive to purchase, often costing some 500 gp per dose.9
While it is illegal in many countries in Golarion,7 pesh continues to be Katapesh's main export and can be found for sale in places as far away as Absalom, Cheliax, or Varisia.1 In Katapesh, its price and quality are closely regulated by the city's Pactmasters.7
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Land of Adventure” in Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh, 20. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Chapter 5: The World” in Campaign Setting, 217. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 255. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Weapons, Armor, and Adventuring Gear” in Adventurer's Armory, 17. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Katapeshi Drug Crafting” in Alchemy Manual, 19. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 52. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Pesh” in Black Markets, 18. Paizo Inc., 2015 .
- “Gnome Settlements” in Gnomes of Golarion, 21. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Dragoncrafting” in Dragonslayer's Handbook, 19. Paizo Inc., 2013 .